The Wire Troll: Anders Lee Shakes Slump
Jonathan Drouin has picked things up as the season has progressed. (Stan Szeto-USA Today Sports)
Welcome back to another week of Fantasy hockey. We’re just about done with the ’23 portion of the 2023-24 season, so strap in for a second half push and use the waiver wire to your advantage.
This week, Columbus will be without leading scorer Zach Werenski (LBI) for weeks; the Jackets also lost Sean Kuraly after he took a puck to the chest; and Kris Letang became the first defenseman ever to record five points in a period.
And now, let’s get to this week’s…
Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire Picks
Anders Lee, LW, New York Islanders (ESPN: 10.8 per cent; CBS: 22 per cent): When we last checked in on Lee, we thought he was in the early stages of a comeback effort, but he actually wound up regressing further in 2019-20. The following season, he was definitely experiencing a major bounce back, but suffered a season-ending knee injury. The last two seasons haven’t been as great, yet Lee still flirted with 30 goals in each campaign. He began 2023-24 so slowly (just one goal in November) that he was no longer a must own Fantasy asset. But in case you missed it, the veteran has regained his scoring touch with three goals in November and six in 13 games so far this month, including his only multi-goal effort a couple of weeks ago and tallies in three straight before being held off the scoresheet in the last couple of games. The Islanders’ captain enjoyed a three-point effort on Saturday and is still capable of being a tremendous net front presence, so grab him while you can.
Jonathan Drouin, LW, Colorado Avalanche (ESPN: 3.8 per cent; CBS: 22 per cent): It’s been over five years since we last discussed Drouin, who was enjoying one of his best seasons at the time but has mostly regressed since. And while many expected him to excel with the change of scenery in Colorado this season (especially given a chance to rekindle chemistry with junior teammate Nathan MacKinnon — see video below), it’s been a slow slog. However, don’t give up on Drouin yet; he’s getting better as the campaign has progressed to the point he’s recorded seven points in last seven games. He’s still seeking his first multi-goal game of the season, but has already more than doubled his goal total from all of 2022-23, so there’s reason to give him another look if you gave up on him over the last couple of years.
David Jiricek, D, Columbus Blue Jackets (ESPN: 1.3 per cent; CBS: 21 per cent): Yet another serious injury to Werenski has opened the door for Jiricek to play a much bigger role. The sixth overall pick last year, Jiricek has just one goal in 31 games so far, but had recorded four points in five games before Friday and if he can start to see some PP time, his offensive game could step up big time. The fact that he’s actually a plus player on arguably the worst team in the Eastern Conference speaks volumes about his potential.
- Nashville centre Juuso Parssinen got off to a better start in December with four points in the first eight games, but has now been shut out in five straight. He’s matched his goal total from last season’s strong rookie effort, but the lack of assists — even with extra PT — has been disappointing.
- Is Andrei Svechnikov finally becoming the player we thought he would after that brilliant sophomore season in 2019-20 when he posted 61 points in 68 games? He’s had a tough time staying healthy, but has looked better and better since coming back from a knee injury that delayed his start to this season, and after potting his third career hat trick on Thursday, he now has four goals and three assists over the last three games, and 10 points through eight December games.
- Alexandar Georgiev is having a rough second season in Colorado, and things seem to be getting worse lately. Before a nice bounce back effort on Friday, in his previous start he was ripped for five goals on just 27 shots to see his December GAA rise to nearly 3.25 after a similarly substandard showing in November. Thanks to five games already this season with a save percentage of under .850, Georgiev was at a career worst before Friday and his GAA is at its highest rate since 2019-20. This is not what you bargained for when you took him at the end of the second round/beginning of the third round this fall.
- The trade rumours keep swirling around Calgary defenseman Noah Hanifin, but he just keeps producing. The NHL leader in shifts won’t score five goals again like he did in November, but he’s averaging a half point per game again this month and is still on pace to set a new career high in goals this season.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
English heavy metal legend Judas Priest launched in 1969 and are still at it today. The band had a breakthrough hit in North American in 1982 with “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’,” the lead single from their eighth album, Screaming for Vengeance. The song is likely to enjoy a renaissance in Canada given that it’s featured in a current iPhone commercial.